DHARAMSHALA: The fifth session of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, the budget session for the financial year 2017-2018, began on Wednesday.

Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, spoke about a variety of issues facing the Tibetan movement led by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).

He spoke about the Middle Way Approach and China’s growing disregard for the rights of its ethnic minorities including the Tibetan people, and urged the Chinese government to resume the dialogue process to find a lasting solution to the Tibet issue.

“The Central Tibetan Administration has proposed the mutually-beneficial Middle Way Approach and has presented the proposal in both verbal and written documents to the Chinese representatives. However, the dialogue has been stalled for some time now since 2010,” he said.

“China is now one of the most important players in global politics. Therefore, it should respect the rights of the ethnic minorities in China including the Tibetan people. It should restore human and language rights in Tibet, allow freedom of the press and resume dialogue with Tibetan representatives in earnest,” he added.

He spoke about the profound political changes taking place in the world particularly in China and said that although it’s difficult to say with certainty the impact of these changes, the Tibet issue will continue to stay relevant.

“Since the occupation of Tibet by China, Tibetans have staged numerous peaceful protests against China in the last 60 years prominent among them were the 2008 pan-Tibet uprising and the wave of self-immolation protests that have swept Tibet since 2009,” he said.

“Most of the self-immolators have called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans. The Chinese government, instead of addressing their concerns, has resorted to distorting the truth and blaming the Tibetans themselves for creating trouble. Therefore, I urge China to assess the ground situation inside Tibet and fulfill the aspiration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and address the grievances of the Tibetan people,” he said.

Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel also highlighted the immense contribution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Tibet cause and said that Tibetans should pay heed to his guidance to preserve the legacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for future generations. Speaker also emphasized Tibetan unity and said that it is the unity of the Tibetan people that will ultimately determine the success of the Tibetan movement.

The inaugural session of the parliament also proposed three official resolutions of mourning to condole the demise of self-immolators Tenga, Konpe and Tsekho, staunch Tibet supporter Dr N K Trikha, and former Tibetan parliamentarian Lobsang Tenzin. It proposed an official resolution to express solidarity with the sufferings of Tibetan people inside Tibet.

The budget session of the parliament will discuss and approve the budget of the various departments and offices under the Central Tibetan Administration for the year 2017-18. The session will go on till 24 March 2018.